Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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On the Dangers of Reenchantment



“So, what are you doing for Samhain this year?”

At a community pre-Halloween party, I'm talking with a local high priestess. (Witches mostly have other things to do on Halloween itself.) It's not long before I begin to regret my innocent question.

(Welcome to the Irony-Free Zone. What is it about the term “high priestess” that I find so cringe-worthy? Just how self-aggrandizing do we need to be? Isn't “priestess” enough?)

Turns out, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts [sic] have been duking it out recently over at Lakewood Cemetery—territorial disputes, I suppose—and the grand showdown is set for All Hallows' Eve. (Oof, Urban Elves: one of my most un-favorite genres.) Our HPss needs to go in, balance things, I guess.

Oh, my people. There's no one quite like pagans for letting our imaginations run away with us.

I suppose that, if you don't have anywhere better to be, there are worse places to spend the Eve of Samhain than a graveyard. Still, really? The Seelie and Unseelie Courts? In Minnesota?

There's little to her story that's not part of the Lore, I'll admit: inter-seasonal conflict, disputes between kindreds of the Other People, even the choice of a human referee to adjudicate. Surely a witch needs to work her territory, and that actively.

Still, where does reenchantment end, and delusionality begin?

Apparently, she believes what she's telling me. I do not roll my eyes. I do not.

Instead, I wish her luck in the endeavor, and (fortunately for my ability to keep a straight face) the conversation soon veers off in other directions.

I note that she never asks me what I'll be doing for Samhain.

Of course she doesn't ask.






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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Mark Green
    Mark Green Monday, 10 October 2022

    I have heard modern Paganism referred to as "a fantasy fandom, not a religion", and while I think that is really harsh, there are certainly aspects of it that are often true.

    Why isn't the Earth enough?

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 10 October 2022


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